EDDIE Howe has refused to rule out a move for former England defender John Terry – and tipped one of his current charges for future Three Lions honours.

Although the Cherries boss was reluctant to go into detail about Chelsea stalwart Terry, he insisted the 36-year-old remained capable of thriving in the Premier League.

Howe was more forthcoming on the subject of Steve Cook, who is expected to maintain his record as Cherries’ only top-flight ever-present this term when Middlesbrough visit Vitality Stadium on Saturday (3pm).

Cook’s imperious form has led to him being touted for international recognition, as well as reportedly attracting covetous glances from Everton and West Brom.

“Steve has really matured in terms of his performances on the pitch and become a lot more consistent,” said Howe, who dismissed the rumours linking Cook with a move away.

“We ask a lot of our centre-halves in the way we play. The demands on them are quite extreme. We want them to be good footballers, composed on the ball and we also want them to be able to defend. Cookie has got that balance right this season.”

Signed from Brighton by ex-Cherries boss Lee Bradbury in October 2011, the centre-back first came under Howe’s command when the manager returned from Burnley 12 months later.

“When you consider how long I have been here, which in management is a long time, I took players when they were 21, to now at 26, so naturally l have seen a change in those personalities,” said Howe.

“In Cookie’s case, it is all positive. He has matured, he is very focused on his football and he is one of the best trainers here, every single day.

“He can play for England, without a doubt, when you look at his age and his profile and how well he has done this season. In this country it is becoming more and more difficult to find centre-backs who are playing the modern way.

“Cookie certainly fits that profile and that is why he has a really good chance in the future if he continues to impress.”

Former England skipper Terry’s announcement that he will leave Chelsea in the summer, after 17 years and 14 major trophies, prompted a string of bookmakers to install Cherries as favourites to secure his signature.

“We are not going to comment on any transfer speculation,” said Howe. “When we sign players I will talk chapter and verse about them.

“Age is not a barrier for me. I always look at the player, not his age. That doesn’t mean I am ruling it in or out. We have signed some experienced players in the past and they have done really well for us.

“Ian Harte comes to mind as a great signing we made in the Championship. That move was questioned, in terms of his age.

“It is always about the player and his character.

“I believe he (Terry) can be successful in the Premier League. Of course he can still play – but it is not for me to speak for him.”

Another Cherries defender, Brad Smith, meanwhile, visited a specialist on Friday to determine the extent of a knee injury sustained during a training session.

Andrew Surman is making progress in his recovery from his own knee problem but is definitely ruled out of the clash with struggling Boro, while fellow midfielder Dan Gosling, who has missed his team’s past three matches, has not trained this week.

Right-back Adam Smith will be available after recovering from the bruised foot he suffered at Tottenham last week.